Red Menace: Restaurant Bans Ketchup for Customers Older Than 10

Ever scolded someone for committing the mortal sin of putting ketchup on a hot dog? Did they turn sour on you, start grousing about their God-given right to slather America's tomato-gloop on whatever they darn well please? Well, one Florida restaurant is on your side, having flat-out banned the condiment for any customers over ten years old.

Welcome to Mad Fresh Bistro in Fort Myers, where substitutions are verboten and even the fries are served free of the red stuff, paired instead with a tarragon aioli (that king of condiments). "I had someone try and sneak ketchup in here and I kicked them out," chef Xavier Duclos told "I think my flavors work. You don't walk into the museum and tell them to change the color of the painting."

Mortals, be warned: thou shalt not question the culinary judgments of Mad Fresh Bistro.

Duclos, who used to cook at yacht and country clubs where he'd regularly submit to patron requests, went so far as to post a notice on his restaurant's website:

"We know, we know. People love their ketsup. But honestly, be ready. If you're over 10 years old, ketsup will NOT be provided. Similarly, salt won't be making an appearance next to your meal, either. We simply ask that you trust us. We know what we're doing! Part of the MAD experience is to trust the chef, and not have preconceived notions of what your dish is going to need.

We know: "ketsup?" But customers are upset over more than Duclos's spelling. Just take a look at some of the Yelp reviews that have sprung up amid the controversy. From one John R. of Winter Haven, FL:

They believe that people cannot make their own decisions about what they want to eat. I asked for ketchup and was told "no" that the cook has a right to refuse any condiments that they don't think you should eat on their food. I ask this, who do they think they are? Our parents? Food nazis? I will not be re-visiting this establishment in the near future.

For their part, it's possible to see where the restaurant is coming from. Certain fine-dining establishments can lay claim to the constructed sanctity of their food--would you ask for ketchup at The French Laundry? On the other hand, this is a restaurant called Mad Fresh Bistro, whose menu features "mad burgers" and calls pizza flatbread.

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